Our blog section will give us the opportunity to express your opinion about various subjects related to Colombia. We'll put videos, share articles and show testimonies there! If you want to submit a blog entry, or you want us to feature your blog, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is an article about "Why Doing An Internship In Colombia", on the website Colombiareports, one of the most influent news website in English in South America : http://colombiareports.co/internship-colombia-good-idea/
"Colombia provides fantastic conditions and opportunities for students looking to do internships or volunteer in Latin America as the country is still relatively unknown to foreigners while the need for high-quality interns is higher than ever.
As many people that do not know much about Colombia, we came to Medellin, the country’s second largest city, with some negative presumptions in mind.
However, we were pleasantly surprised to feel at ease straightaway and immediately fell in love with Medellin and its 3.5 million people.
One of the aspects that blew our mind is the blooming business culture in the city. The entrepreneurship spirit is strongly developed. For example, Culture E, a program funded by Medellin city government, sponsored the creation of 1,843 new enterprises with 3,025 new employments between 2008 and 2010 alone. Additionally, Medellin launched two programs in 2005, one called “Mujeres Emprendedoras” to help women become entrepreneurs and the other called “Medellin Mi Empresa” which supported 9,644 local micro-companies.
This internationalization and dynamism of both Colombia and Medellin attract many foreign companies which can rely on Colombia’s attractive foreign investment policies, a strong GDP growth (a 4.6% annual GDP projected growth in the next five years according to the Economist), Colombia’s improved security and increase in tourism.
However, while the country’s need for English speakers is growing, Colombia’s workforce does not have an adequate level of English. This provides amazing opportunities for international students who will have access to a unique professional experience. Additionally, local companies highly value foreign student’s education levels.
Moreover, Colombia, unlike some other South American countries, has not attracted many interns or volunteers because of its violent past while the need for foreigners to contribute in the country’s long-detained development is bigger than ever.
This exceptional vacuum secures great opportunities that can be offered to volunteers and interns nowadays.
An experience in Colombia on a resume is unique and extremely valuable. It shows the adventurous spirit and adaptability of the student.
All these factors convinced us to launch Internships Colombia, an interactive platform between local and international firms in Colombia and foreign students looking for an exciting adventure in Colombia. We hope to have convinced you.
Below a nice video about Colombia :
The following video focuses on Colombia's economy and prospects (with a focus on the energy sector):
This video features the famous feria de las flores en Medellín :
An article in Spanish this time from the newspaper 'El Colombiano' : Another prize for Medellin !
Medellín, el mejor destino para hacer negocios en Suramérica
Medellín recibió un nuevo reconocimiento que la impulsa en el camino de ser una ciudad cada vez más internacional: en el concurso The Business Destinations Travel Awards, organizado por la revista Business Destinations, 550 compañías y empresarios la eligieron como el mejor destino de Suramérica para hacer negocios.
The Business Destinations Travel Awards, en asocio con American Express, lleva seis años escogiendo los mejores destinos de negocios de cada continente, mediante una encuesta en la que participan ejecutivos de viajes corporativos, así como otros miembros influyentes de la comunidad MICE (Negocios, Incentivos, Conferencias, Exhibiciones y Eventos). La revista tiene 49.650 destinatarios.
Diana Milena Arango Uribe, gerente del Bureau de Convenciones, señaló que para la elección fueron postuladas cien ciudades, de las que al final quedaron tres: Quito, Santiago de Chile y Medellín.
"Es una satisfacción muy grande para nosotros como ciudad, porque competimos con ciudades que llevan más años que nosotros trabajando en turismo de negocios", expresó la funcionaria.
Entre las razones para este premio que se entrega cada año, Gabriel Jaime Rico Betancur, gerente de Plaza Mayor, consideró que Medellín ha venido trabajando en los sectores de turismo, negocios e internacionalización para fortalecer la oferta de ciudad.
En este sentido, sostuvo que la hotelería es competitiva y resaltó que es la más barata de las ciudades capitales de Colombia. Además, "hacer un evento en Plaza Mayor es mucho más barato que en Corferias o en otros centros del mismo nivel de América Latina", apuntó.
También destacó que los precios de los restaurantes son más accesibles que los de otras urbes de esta parte del continente. "Es un trabajo en equipo que busca que Medellín se vuelva referente en este campo", anotó Rico.
El gerente de Plaza Mayor reportó que en 2011 se hicieron 560 eventos en este centro de convenciones y exposiciones. En 2012 fueron 1.203, y se esperan 1.400 para 2013. "El 2012 fue el mejor año de Plaza Mayor en su historia y el 2013 va mejor", comentó.
En cuanto a congresos, ferias o encuentros internacionales, mencionó que fueron 21 en 2011, 31 en 2012 y para 2013 ya hay 40 confirmados.
Agregó que cada año, en promedio, a Medellín lo visitan 162.000 turistas extranjeros y la meta de las instituciones es que en 2013 esta cifra aumente al menos el 10%.
El año pasado, Plaza Mayor generó 25.000 empleos indirectos, pues con los eventos se mueven hoteles, logística, restaurantes, transporte, entre otros sectores.
Rico explicó que hay tres tipos de turistas: el mochilero, que se gasta, en promedio, 50 dólares al día; el de familia, que es el más común, invierte entre 200 y 300 dólares diarios, mientras que el de negocios gasta entre 300 y 1.000 dólares al día, por lo que destacó que aumentar las visitas de este último es fundamental para el desarrollo económico.
Por su parte, Diana Arango, del Bureau, indicó que la entidad tiene 171 eventos confirmados para 2013 y proyecta llegar a 200 en toda la agenda de ciudad.
Añadió que en 2012 captaron 56 eventos que le dejarán 30.700 millones de pesos a Medellín entre 2013 y 2018. Y ahora esperan captar 65 eventos, 40% nacionales y 60% internacionales, para los próximos años.
Juan David Valderrama, director de la Agencia de Cooperación e Inversión de Medellín y el Área Metropolitana (ACI), opinó que el reconocimiento se debe "a la suma de todos los esfuerzos que hemos hecho como ciudad, en construir un ecosistema con talento humano y capacidad instalada".
Resaltó que en 2012 la ciudad alcanzó negocios récord por 232 millones de dólares en inversión extranjera directa.
En 2013 la ACI ha logrado la instalación de cuatro empresas extranjeras por 11 millones de dólares, que han generado 500 empleos. Su apuesta es que este año lleguen 10 empresas en negocios de entre 250 y 300 millones de dólares, los que darán 2.500 empleos.
Para Valderrama, la dificultad más grande para la internacionalización de la ciudad ha sido el bilingüismo, tema en el que, resaltó, se ha venido trabajando bastante. Incluso la Alcaldía y otras instituciones pactaron una inversión de 50.000 millones de pesos para fortalecer este campo.
En un comunicado, la administración del alcalde, Aníbal Gaviria Correa, señaló que este resultado "representa para Medellín un nuevo avance en la consolidación de su internacionalización y se suma al reconocimiento, obtenido este mismo año, como la ciudad más innovadora del mundo, entregado por Citigroup.
Para el director de Fenalco Antioquia, Sergio Ignacio Soto Mejía, este premio, junto a otros, es muy positivo y un gran generador de riqueza y de empleo, pues genera desarrollo social y empresarial. "Este nuevo logro compromete más a la Alcaldía a trabajar por temas esenciales, como la seguridad y la recuperación y reconquista del centro de Medellín, para así poder honrar ese nuevo título", comentó.
En cifras, aspira que de los 16.000 millones de dólares que fue la inversión extranjera en Colombia el año pasado, Antioquia y Medellín tengan el 20% de ese total, lo que equivale a 3.200 millones de dólares.
An article in English from the website Medellin Vida, about common misconceptions with the food in Colombia.
It is all the same
I have heard that most people from other countries, believe that all Latin American food is the same. They think that all you can find here are beans and corn. It is a widespread stereotype, equal to the belief that in China they only eat rice, only pasta in Italy or just burgers in the United States.
Colombian food, and much more that of Antioquia, has a huge influence of Spanish cuisine. Chorizo sausages, hams and other meats, rices, cheeses and wines, are examples of dishes brought from Spain and merged with Aboriginal food to create what today is known as typical Colombian food.
Today it is possible to find a number of restaurants offering very good international food in Medellin. From the widespread Chinese restaurants, to even Lebanese exotic food places, for example. The gastronomy offer in the city is amazing.
What causes more attention to foreign tourists is the amount of traditional restaurants in the region. Something they do not know when they come to Medellín is that the average citizen has a big rooting for food and local customs, as the Antioch is proud of the cultural and culinary heritage left from both, Iberians and Native Americans, in a unique blend of flavors and textures.
To the disappointment of many tourists, Colombian food is not as spicy as the famous Mexican recipes. Those hoping to find the strong flavors of the Aztec country in Colombia will find that the food is soft but it is much more varied, as the country is mostly very agricultural.
As a tourist you can find food that can be exotic and striking to your palate, or if you want the kind of breakfast or lunch you’re used to, you’ll find it in Medellin as well. Just be prepared to enjoy.
An article in English, from the website Gapyear, about how Colombia is not as dangerous as its reputation suggests.
Colombia: Too Dangerous or The Next Tourist Hotspot
What comes into your mind when you think of Colombia?
Well guess what? It's all a big fat preconception. In fact you're more likely to be eaten by a shark in Australia than you are to be kidnapped in Colombia’s capital city of Bogota. However, out of date rumours have yet to be cleared up in the First World Countries whose residents, that have never visited, seem convinced if you go to Colombia you may never return. They got that bit right… but not the way they think.
I want to help spread the word and shake off the ‘danger’ tag associated with Colombia and replace it with the love that I have experienced first hand. So firstly let's be frank and honest: why was Colombia once the world’s most violent country? Mainly because of drugs. Drug trafficking and production. Everything else steamed from there, including the kidnapping, murders and corruption. The demand for drugs became so high that Colombia got caught up in conflict between other countries and ‘Guerilla’ gangs internally, which attracted the US, that they started the ‘War on Drugs’ in Colombia which continues to this day. Within the last 10 years however Colombian drug production has decreased by 60% and Peru now produces more drugs than Colombia. The murder rate is lower than in some US cities and there were 250 kidnappings reported last year compared to1583 in Mexico. I don’t want to get too wrapped up in facts, so hit up Wikipedia to find out more, I’m here to tell you why its all turned itself round.
I originally planned to skip Colombia, or maybe just stay for a few days. I had been travelling South America for 6 months and really wanted to start my next leg to Central America. Having done the whole journey from Argentina to Ecuador on a bus, I figured I should step foot in one last country before potentially having to fly to Panama. That was about 28 days ago, and guess what? I'm still in Colombia. I arrived in Cali, the second largest city in Colombia, and could finally leave my sweater in my backpack! The sun was well and truly shining. Cali was great, the people were friendly, well presented and sincerely helpful. The one thing I knew about Colombia before I came was the coffee. I drank it every day while daydreaming about South American adventures in my cold, wet hometown of England. I had to find the Colombian gold and Solento was the place. What I wasn’t prepared for was the breathtaking beauty. Even the bus ride was a pleasure, which is a sentence I never thought I would say in South America. The landscape was so unexpected, I didn’t imagine Colombia to have this much beauty. Without sounding cliché there lay fresh mountain waterfalls and cascading luminous green hills at every turn, it was breathtaking, but the unexpected kind, the kind you weren’t programmed to feel. The coffee was out of this world, made by the gods (café farmers) of Colombia. Maybe that’s where I was sold, maybe that when I knew I wasn’t going to leave any time soon. The hostels in Solento (and now I realise the whole of Colombia) were of the best standard of the whole of South America.
Bogota was my next stop, on arrival it was a dull city with nothing different from any other. Then I opened my eyes, and my heart. Bogota has captured me, I belonged to the city now. The streets were like those of museums; amazing art work covered the once decaying walls and illuminated the once scarce alley ways. The smiles from the locals were infectious, the love poured from their hearts. At first I was wary when people approached me on the street, but eventually I realised how genuine these people were, and how much they cared about the tourists. Asking for directions was different from other ‘dangerous’ countries in South America, you would get the directions, a recommendation and a warming smile. For me Bogota and the Colombian people changed my view on everything. I was confused how it had such bad press when I was staying in a Colombians house for free, being taken for dinner by new Colombian friends and partying the night away with locals. This can not be the former ‘worlds most dangerous city’ the guide books claimed it was. I took a walk alone one night to pick up some groceries, it was dark, and I was in an unkown neighbouroghood. Yet all I could think about was how safe I felt, by dark I almost felt like I was in my local town. People smiled, didn’t stare and carried on with their own business. I walked slower and stayed for longer, that moment I knew I had too change foreigners perception on Colombia.
I was genuinely sad to leave Bogota, but I know i'll be back. No city has taken my soul like Bogota did and I feel like I have friends for life there. The only downside to the city however was the weather. I needed to get some sun on my pale skin, so along with two amazing Colombian friends I had made in Bogota we headed to the sunshine coast of Cartagena and Santa Marta. The beaches were not ones of exotic pictures, but as I knew by now it was all about the people you meet along the way, not the scenery anymore. We partied for 5 days on $1 beers and cured hangovers with freshly caught fish in the day. I was in pure bliss. Reflecting on the last month in Colombia I couldn’t believe how much I had fallen in love with it. I've done 7 countries in 7 months and over 25 in my life time, and Colombia is right up there at number one! It was totally unexpected and emotionally captivating, kind of like a holiday romance. But this one will last, I will always love Colombia and any one that tells you it is dangerous has obviously never been.
Try it for yourself, and leave the pepper spray at home.
An article in English, from an ex-policeman who went to teach English in Medellin - Oliver Burbage Hall.
Giggles to Greetings
After 10 years as a police officer it makes a change to find myself in a role where people no longer hate me because of what I represent.
From the day I first arrived in Medellín in May 2014, I felt the positivity and hope that emanated from the wonderful people of Colombia. During the Heart for Change training it was obvious that I had moved on to something where I would help reinforce those emotions not only for what but also for who I was.
The day I met Gudelia, my mentor, she announced that the teaching community in Mosquera had “high expectations” for me. Although I found this a little intimidating due to my lack of teaching experience, the scale of the challenge was nonetheless abated as, with each new introduction, I was made to feel both welcome and valuable just for being myself.
The students, all girls, were timid at first with stifled giggles coming from all around as I passed through the school. Soon, though, their confidence increased as tales of my “beautiful smile”, tattoos, marital status and love of bachata emerged from interrogations in early classroom sessions.
One month later, I still hear some giggles when I walk amongst the students, but these are overshadowed by greetings in English and the approach of inquisitive students from courses that I don’t even teach. I’m still getting to grips with this new world of teaching, but, outside of the classroom, I’ve already engaged with students at five different public schools in Mosquera as a judge in the institutional rounds of the annual spelling bee contest and as director of a short movie about English activities in my school.
It is obvious that the public school system in Colombia has a long way to go to achieve bilingualism but, having turned from an object of hate to one of wonder and inspiration, I already feel that each day I am making a difference as a Heart for Change English Teaching Fellow.
An article on Colombian biodiveristy and recent efforts to increase protected areas - Adriaan Alsema
Colombia to expand nature reserves and protect biodiversity with foreign aid
Colombia, the second most bio-diverse country on earth, will receive help from several international organizations to expand its current nature reserves with 3.5 million hectares.
The country’s Vice-Minister of Environment signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Gordon and Betty Moore foundation (GBM) from the US, the Fund for Biodiversity and Protected Areas – Natural Heritage, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Wildlife Conservation Society and Conservation International (CI).
In the agreement, the Colombian government and the international sponsors committed to “create and consolidate 3.5 million hectares of new areas that will contribute to biodiversity and ecosystem services.”
Additionally, the pact seeks a gradual opening up of funds to guarantee a lasting well-being of nature reserves in Colombia.
The foreign organizations also promised to help the Colombian government to “strengthen the planning and implementation strategies, as well as the financial models for long-term sustainable financing” of the South American country’s natural parks.
“Colombia has ambitious targets to increase our protected areas and strengthen the existing ones because they are central to sustainable rural development, biodiversity conservation, climate change action and, therefore, provide the foundations for a long lasting peace,” said Colombia’s Vice-Minister of Environment, Pablo Viera.
Additionally, “protected areas are a powerful tool for climate change adaptation and mitigation, and an extraordinary development opportunity. They capture carbon, regulate climate and protect us from extreme weather events. At the same time, they harbor unique biodiversity which value needs to be visible to the world” added the official.
Colombia is the world’s second most bio-diverse nation after neighboring Brazil, but has seen its flora and fauna threatened by deforestation, mainly because of illegal mining and lumbering practices.
In order to protect the country’s immense, but threatened biodiversity, President Juan Manuel Santos earlier this year announced a number of expansions of protected areas.